A riot of rich colour and print is not the only way to introduce a tribal aesthetic. A neutral, earthy scheme will give a more relaxed feel. Texture is key – here, wood, in the form of flooring, wall panelling and log stack, is brought into focus thanks to the darker palette used in the storage and soft furnishings, and also the slim legs and reflective surfaces of the furniture, which barely impacts on the look. The mix of ethnic patterns on Maisons du Monde’s seating is bold by nature, but the strict monochrome tones help to keep them in order. Tabriz sofa £899.90
Don’t discount narrow windows: a strip running parallel to the ceiling can transform a living room into a more interesting, sculptural space, and the inevitable effect on the flow of daylight can be combatted with careful colour and furniture choices. Start with pale hues. Galerie’s Metallium wallpaper is a warm, forgiving cream rather than white (which would be too clinical in an industrial-inspired room such as this) and has a subtle print, which complements and enhances the texture of the concrete and stone flooring. £37.95 per roll.
The long game
Elongated living rooms are useful when you’re entertaining large gatherings. The difficulty lies in creating a cohesive space that doesn’t feel vast and empty at quieter times. If zoning is not an option, make use of print and texture to unite all areas of the room. In another lounge, this courageous clash of several different patterns – in the throws, Barker & Stonehouse seating, cushions and rug – would feel overwhelming, but the extra space accorded by the light blue walls and wooden flooring allows the prints to breathe. The midnight blue wallpaper acts as a full stop, deflecting from the length of the room and anchoring the colour scheme. Savalen corner chaise, £2145.
Who’s to say a conservatory or garden room cannot serve as the main living room? This light-filled and leafy space is a welcome alternative to lounges weighed down with heavy fabrics and plush carpets. Build the composition of colour, texture and materials around the garden view and the multitude of windows. John Lewis’s Ariel sofa and armchairs suit the fresh look of the greenery, their structure recalling patio or balcony furniture, but remain warm and inviting thanks to the cushions piled on top, in jewel tones such as plum and indigo. From £250.
Sit up and take notice
The focal point in the lounge can all too often be the television, when really the investment piece, the sofa, should take precedence. BoConcept’s Madison sofa, with sleeper function and adjustable headrest, is beautifully crafted and will comfortably stand out in most rooms. Thus, its solid Aegean blue colour is emphasised by the white walls and its smooth, soft texture contrasts with the parquet flooring and 3D-effect rug. £3374
Think maritime and a clean, blue-and-white scheme springs to mind, ideal for the summer months. Can the theme work as well later in the year? Adjust a few details and the look is more flexible than you might imagine. House of Fraser has put chestnut leather and tan accessories into the picture, echoing the tones of autumn leaves and creating a cosier environment. The pieces and prints associated with a nautical aesthetic are still prominent (striped cushions, lanterns and wooden cladding, for example, plus nods to rope and luggage), but the juxtaposition with different shades and textures make them feel reinvented for a new season. £POA
High ceilings can be tricky to live with in a space that requires a cosy, tactile appeal. Ligne Roset’s solution is to concentrate on carving out an area barely taller than the sofa. Definition is created by low wooden panelling, which runs the full length of the room, starkly contrasting with the blanched walls. The eye is drawn to everything below this line: the sunset palette of the textured rug, the baby-pink Hudson sofa, and the built-in shelving packed with books are easier to process when only a third of the space is in focus. The approach is then emphasised even further by the trio of pendants, serving as arrows pointing in a downward direction. Sofa from £3435.
Against the soft, neutral walls, gleaming floors and filmy voile, the acute lines of Cappellini’s Panda crimson corner sofa could easily domineer the space, were it not for the other pieces in the room. Storage cubes, rectangular shelving and a low coffee table, all featuring the same print in a limited black, white and red scheme, make sense of the bold modular seating and the layers of cushions (to compensate for the lack of back support), and help integrate the shapes into the rest of the room. From £2060.
How is the living room to be used? If it is to be a formal space, a good option might be to go for a more regimented look, as adopted by Black Orchid Interiors’ pristine, orderly lounge. Prepare to become engrossed in minute details. The symmetry here is exact and disciplined, from the Denver side tables hosting the same oversized Arboreum lamps on either side of the chesterfield, to the pair of mirror-image prints. Sticking to two tones frees you up to choose busier patterns, like this diamond wallpaper. Sofa, £1200.
There are certain rooms in the home that have a distinct function, but the living room is something altogether different. Entertaining and socialising aside, the lounge can also be a reading room, a cinema or just an escapist haven in a hectic house, especially if a theme, however loose, is introduced. A gentle mix of Middle Eastern and tropical style references have been applied in the room above, using Jim Thompson’s Temple of Dawn fabrics: a hothouse of rich tones and textures to lounge around in. From £72 square metre.
A split-level living room gives the gift of additional height. Nonetheless, since both floors occupy the same space, it is vital to make them feel connected. In this living room by the Sofa & Chair Company, a cool blue-and-bone palette unites the two areas. By fitting a glass barrier across the mezzanine, the panelling scales the walls uninterrupted, and the upper floor’s collection of vases, committed to the room’s colour scheme, are visible and complement the artwork, which reaches beyond the banister and acts as the main feature in the room. The space is blessed with a stretch of windows that allow light to flood in, but the spotlights installed underneath the mezzanine ensure that no area is left in the dark. Pollock sofa from £1930.
Lose your inhibitions and have no fear of vibrant colour. Rather than looking childish and obtrusive, a palette of primary hues can be sophisticated and artful – if the living room is approached more like a gallery space than a home. Linear, angular shapes play a significant role in Very’s Urban Tribe lounge, in order to emphasise the sloping ceiling. Every aspect is carefully considered, particularly the close relationship between the mustard column, housing the minimal fireplace, the sharp pillar-box red corner sofa and the rug, but an opportunity to have fun remains – you need only look at the zebra head mounted on the wall. £POA
As period features frame this diminutive lounge (from the wooden panelling on the sloping ceiling to the uneven cobbles that form the floor), a combination of minimal pieces, contemporary Vanessa Arbuthnott fabrics and traditional seating that both respect and update these features are arranged in between. Aim for a cosy, characterful room, and look out for bold prints in subdued shades to achieve something similar. Birds and Beasts and Harris Tweed fabrics from £48 per metre.